East Asian Economic and Business History


An Examination of the Internationalisation Strategies of China’s Private Enterprises

Dylan Sutherland, University of Nottingham

Are the internationalization strategies of China’s private business groups different to those of state-owned groups? To date there has been comparatively little research on this question, yet it is likely such groups will play an increasingly important role in Chinese outward investment.  This talk is based around research into a sample of 57 Chinese TNCs that are controlled by private entrepreneurs and families. It analyses the motives for their foreign direct investments and considers, in particular, the question of whether so-called ‘strategic-asset-seeking’ is an important force driving ODI in China’s private firms. It also attempts to frame the outward investment strategies of China’s privately controlled TNCs within the broader context of East Asian foreign direct investment with a view to better recognising its essential features.

Click here for Dylan Sutherland’s powerpoint presentation


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Role of Japanese Business and Government in the 1990s Economic Downturn

Peter Von Staden, University of the West of England

– This presentation was for a work in progress –

The reasons for Japan’s ‘Lost Decade’ provide a vista through which Japan can be understood. In the wake of this turmoil, much of scholarship has focussed on the economic and financial aspects of its origins and why reform has not met expectations.  In themselves, these analyses provide varied and cogent explanations but also, lurking in the background, is the question of intent: To what extent did policy makers really want to change Japan’s political economy?

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Chinese Business in a Globalizing World: The Impact of the 1930s World Depression

Tim Wright, University of Sheffield

Globalization is nothing new, nor are economic crises.  Up to the late 1920s, the coastal areas of China were closely tied in to the world economy for many years, but this pattern was to some extent interrupted by the Great Depression, which had serious effects particularly on two of China’s staple exports, silk and soybeans. The Depression had, however, a very limited effect on total output in China, whether industrial production or GDP. It was nevertheless a very important event politically, and this was partly because of its effect on businesses in China, both foreign and Chinese owned. This presentation will argue that fluctuations in the value of China’s (silver) currency were crucial in determining the fate of business enterprises in this period. Specifically, those (Japanese-owned) business enterprises that used the gold yen suffered a sharp and catastrophic decline in their competitiveness from the very onset of the Depression in 1929. This brought forward a series of responses that culminated in Japan’s abandoning the gold standard and in the Japanese occupation of North-east China in 1931. In contrast, enterprises, whether Chinese- or foreign-owned, whose business was based on China’s silver-standard currency enjoyed a boom at the very time their Japanese competitors were suffering.  Their problems came in the mid 1930s when the value of China’s currency rose sharply against other currencies that had been taken off the gold standard. This led to a business crisis for these enterprises, whose manifestation was mainly in the form of falling profits rather than falling output. The government response involved a shift towards intervention in the economy on the part of the Nationalist state. The Nationalists’ currency reform was crucial to an improvement in the situation of the Chinese enterprises.

Click here for Tim Wright’s powerpoint presentation

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East Asian business history workshop

Earlier this year, an informal workshop on East Asian Business History was held at the Cardiff Business School. The general theme of this workshop was “Globalisation in East Asia.” The speakers examined how
businesses in East Asia or East Asian businesses have shaped or have been shaped by the forces of globalisation.

Here is the workshop programme.

The following are some clips.

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